Infected from Within — Diagnosing an 'Atypical Case of Lameness'

It’s easy to jump to conclusions when diagnosing issues in livestock. But, when a team from the University of Calgary, stumbled upon a case of lameness that just didn’t seem to be going away, they knew to look beyond the oft-blamed culprit of footrot.

“This was a very experienced producer. He had a lot of animals, and he noticed quite a while ago that the animal was going lame on the right hind leg,” explained Sarah Depenbrock, U of C clinical instructor, following her presentation at the UCVM Beef Cattle Conference. “He treated him for footrot, which is not uncommon…but he did notice that despite his treatment, the animal didn’t get better, and more concerningly, he became lame on another limb.”

The bull did end up having infections in his feet, but what made this case ‘atypical’ was that the infections were caused from an issue within the animal — caval thrombosis.

“This animal came in for lameness and we thought we’d have some kind of refractory case of footrot or extending…disease from the outside in, and it turned out to be completely opposite,” said Depenbrock.

The team diagnosed the bull with caval thrombosis, and under the guidance of the producer, managed him intensively to clean and drain infected joints and provide pain control.

The case is a powerful reminder that many diseases present with similar symptoms. Be sure to keep your veterinarian informed, says Depenbrock, particularly when an animal doesn’t respond to your first course of treatment.

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